Mission: Impossible–Rogue Nation sees Tom Cruise suiting up for a fifth outing as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, this time leading his trusty band of spies (including Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg and newbie Rebecca Ferguson) against the Syndicate. It’s a turn that gains him entry into the exclusive club of movie actors who’ve played the same starring role on five or more occasions, joining the likes of Hugh Jackman (who has donned Wolverine’s claws seven times), plus Roger Moore and Sean Connery, who’ve each played James Bond in seven big-screen adventures.
Cruise’s Hunt isn’t too far removed from 007, with his gadgets, globetrotting and unerring ability to remove himself—and the world—from deadly peril at the last possible moment. He’s held his own with the British super spy in terms of the global box office, too: With the exception of Skyfall ’s billion-dollar bonanza and M:I 3 ’s dip in earnings, the M:I movies have regularly outperformed their Bond rivals on a film-by-film basis.
So what’s the secret? Cruise also co-produces the films and sticks closely to a formula behind the camera: pick a new director each time (for Rogue Nation it’s Cruise’s Jack Reacher director, Christopher McQuarrie) and ramp up the stakes with the stunts and set pieces. In this installment, Cruise is seen hanging onto the side of a cargo plane in flight—a stunt that the 53-year-old did for real in England last year. During filming, he also displayed his action prowess driving the new BMW M3 in Casablanca and rappelling from the Vienna State Opera.
Rogue Nation will face some strong spy-movie competition this year in the form of Guy Ritchie’s 1960s TV reboot, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and the much-anticipated Spectre, Bond’s 24th official big-screen assignment. Can Cruise continue one-upping in his mission to remain relevant in cinema’s espionage network? It’s not impossible.
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Clash of the titans
Iron Man set to take on Captain America
Marvel begins its cinematic “Phase Three” next May with Captain America: Civil War. The in-house beef of the title will pit Chris Evans’ super-soldier against his armored Avengers teammate Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in a battle over the introduction of official sanctions on superhero behavior (Iron Man is for; Cap is against).
Seeds of the epic disagreement were sown on the big screen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, but in the comics, the two heroes have been at loggerheads since the first Civil War comic was published in 2006. Marvel has since teased a comic-book revival of the Civil War storyline in which the duo again fight for the soul of the Marvel Universe. Whose side are you on?
Retaking the stage
Denis Leary makes a comeback
A new 10-part comedy series has debuted, and the title—Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll—tells you exactly what’s coming. Star Denis Leary (Rescue Me, The Amazing Spider-Man) plays a 50-year-old frontman whose band split up on the brink of superstardom 25 years earlier—due to his all-consuming drug habit and a penchant for sleeping with his bandmates’ girlfriends. But now, he’s getting the band back together for one last shot at the big time.
After a successful pilot episode written by Leary himself, FX ordered a full season, and, although the rock comeback story is well-trodden territory, it looks like Leary has the comic talent to carve a new tune out of old chords. The show will air overseas this fall.